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Author Topic: 5 days in April - advice please  (Read 6185 times)
GrahamS
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« on: August 06, 2009, 12:03:11 pm »

We are looking at heading off in April, hopefully in Scotland. Fairly fit but inexperienced, can anyone recommend what route would be best for us. Preferences would be plenty wildlife, scenic and few humans!
Any advice greatly appreciated
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Jacquetta
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« Reply #1 on: August 18, 2009, 07:34:41 am »

Welcome, Graham

Five days is a good length for an April walk, and as long as you are prepared for all weathers you may get a pleasant surprise.  Also, if you are coming from somewhere further south, you will have the benefit of noticeably longer hours of daylight.  The balance shifts on 20 March!

For a 5-day walk, my first suggestion is the Cateran Trail, a circular walk based on Blairgowrie.  It's well waymarked, you are never more than 7 miles from the nearest village and logistics are simple.  Another idea is St Cuthbert's Way, from Melrose to Lindisfarne so you walk across the English border (no passport needed).  It's also very well waymarked and well-served by public transport at both ends. A more adventurous choice would be the Cowal Way from Portavadie on Loch Fyne to Inveruglas on Loch Lomond: rugged Highland scenery but not as well waymarked, nor as much choice of accommodation, and a bit more planning needed.

All three of these are largely off-road, and all can be done in 5 walking days (or even in four if you don't mind long days and are pushed for time).  Does your budget stretch to B&B accommodation or are you planning to camp?  Top tip if inexperienced would be to use baggage transfer (if camping) or travel very light and(if B&Bs) BUT don't forget good waterproofs.  Also, if using B&Bs, book early: some villages have only one or two B&Bs and once they are full, that's it!

Good luck and please tell us what you decide and how you get on,
Jacquetta
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Jacquetta Megarry, publisher of Rucksack Readers and forum moderator
sue k
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« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2009, 10:15:16 am »

Hi Jacquetta
Funny that you should suggest Cateran Trail and Cowal Way - I had been planning to walk the Cowal Way next month, but have had to delay due to ill health.  I am, however hoping to be fit enough for a good walk by about April. Am hoping to be fit enough for Cowal Way, but am keeping the idea of the Cateran Trail as a slightly easier option - would you agree that Cateran is easier?
Either way, good luck with your walk Graham, whichever you choose.
Happy walking
Sue
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Jacquetta
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« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2009, 06:19:51 am »

Hello Sue
Delighted to hear you are getting fitter and making plans! Smiley

I'd agree that the Cateran Trail is easier than the Cowal Way but have to add a caveat: I did the Cateran Trail in fairly normal conditions, but the Cowal Way in January, with unexpectedly deep snow lying on the high ground! Shocked  Because Cowal's roads are mostly low-lying, it was unexpected to encounter arctic condiitons higher up.  Also a few boggy bits were very boggy just because it was mid-winter.

In normal weather conditions, I'd stand by Cateran Trail being easier, for two reasons: first the waymarking is very good, whereas the Cowal waymarking is a bit patchy and there's at least one bit where you need to use a compass if low cloud comes down.  I suspect you could follow the Cateran Trail without either a map or guidebook, although that's not ideal IMO.

Second reason is logistics: Cateran Trail is a circular route and you're never more than 6/7 miles from a village, whereas Cowal is linear and you need to think through the public transport options.  However, if you like your scenery rugged, as opposed to rolling, there's no contest: Cowal shows you the real Highlands, whereas Cateran is a tamer experience.   I will never forget my golden eagle encounter: visit my blog if you want to share this, but please don't be put off by my adventures, which reflected the time of year!
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Jacquetta Megarry, publisher of Rucksack Readers and forum moderator
GrahamS
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« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2009, 04:54:39 pm »

Apologies for the delay in getting back - we've been doing our research!

Thanks very much for the advice Jacquetta and best wishes Sue, both the Cowal and Cateran look real possibilities.

However, having read lots (and lots) of different literature and individuals views on the various different options - we are really no further forward, they all sound great!

I appreciate our own circumstances will dictate to a large extent what we eventually decide to do, but other people's experience will have an influence on our decision making.

Has anybody ever conducted a poll on individuals views on each of the LDWs, I know each experience will be different, but it would help gain a consensus on the pros and cons of each - in the opinion of those that matter, those who have walked the routes.

Is there anywhere I can see, at a glance, experienced walkers' opinions, giving their views on scenery, wildlife, difficulty, accommodation etc?

I will keep reading the vast amount of info out there - I am sure we will come to the right decision eventually!

I will keep you posted, once we have come to some decisions  Embarrassed

Graham

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